IT's "New Normal"

New applications and solutions lead IT into the 21st century's 2nd decade.

Consolidation, expense reduction and risk mitigation have been the defining elements of most CIO conversations over the last 12 to 18 months. The intensity of that focus really paid off, as so many of your companies did a remarkable job of managing expenses.

The rough seas that pounded the business technology landscape really stress-tested the infrastructure side of the ship, which responded by battening down the savings hatches in everything from server and storage virtualization to data center consolidation and unified communications.

Our exclusive CIO research gives us a barometer to measure the impact of these changes, and in this issue you'll find the first in a new series of regular reports called "Numbers You Need." This month we turn up some encouraging news from our quarterly CIO Economic Impact Survey about how IT budgets are stabilizing while rising numbers of big-company CIOs are spending on new projects again. In the final months of 2009, we saw the number of large enterprises planning to increase IT spending jump from 29 percent to 41 percent. That's one dazzling display of readiness for action.

In last month's cover story on our annual State of the CIO research ("Acting on Opportunity"), you saw how CIOs are evaluating their business and technology priorities as they gear up for still greater developments in improving customer service delivery, revamping business processes and extending IT's direct impact on commercial success.

Like never before, this redoubled concentration on the business is setting a new course for CIOs in this century's second decade. No longer will IT narrow its gaze to internal capabilities alone. The game has clearly moved to applications and solutions at the edge of your businesses, where they can deliver more useful intelligence and actionable information. Technologies such as cloud computing, service-oriented architecture, business process management, data analytics, collaboration tools and mobile devices are the underpinnings of IT's "new normal." Your business colleagues want IT to deliver "intelligent velocity," meaning that data-driven ability to move faster and smarter as you respond to customer expectations and desires.

As this post-recession economy loosens its stranglehold on our psyches, CIOs are once again poised to drive growth and expansion. What a pleasure that will be to chronicle in the pages of this magazine. Welcome to IT's new normal.

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